Clark Terry, Dave Holland, Henry Threadgill, John Medeski, Cassandra Wilson, Ira Gitler, and Gary Giddins were among the musicians and journalists honored at the 6th annual Awards of the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA), celebrated by a well-beyond capacity crowd at The Jazz Standard on Wednesday, June 19, 2002. More than 350 people crammed into the east-side Manhattan jazz club for the three-hour early-evening event, an awards ceremony and benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA), which featured remarks from celebrated actor Avery Brooks and stand-up comedy from longtime comedian and jazz funnyman Soupy Sales, plus live music from pianist Roberta Piket‘s Trio (with bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Billy Hart), pianist Chano Dominguez, and a new quintet led by bassist Ben Allison (featuring kora player Mamadou Diabate), and Blue Smoke barbeque.
The awards, handsome 6 1/2 inch obelisks, individually inscribed and with a floating acetate of the JJA’s logo, are distributed based on votes cast by the more than 400 members of the JJA and were given in 39 categories encompassing all aspects of music making as well as the coverage of it, including Lifetime Achievement in Jazz (Clark Terry), Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism (Ira Gitler), Musician of the Year (Dave Holland), and Composer of the Year (Henry Threadgill). Along with the JJA, the JFA presented Discretionary Awards to veteran jazz producer George Avakian, who helped to establish the LP format in the late 1940s, and doctors John Minichetti and David Feldman, both of whom have helped ensure the continued health of numerous jazz musicians through the Foundation.
The awards were punctuated with commentary by many of the award recipients in attendance including legendary drummer Roy Haynes, trumpeter Dave Douglas (who was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Music Center), trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, violinist Regina Carter, who dedicated her award to a teacher of hers who recently died, and vocalist Cassandra Wilson whose acceptance speech was a direct response to recent criticisms that she is no longer interested in jazz: “Let me set the record straight; I ain’t goin’ nowhere!” Provocative comments were also made by some of the Award presenters, who included legendary pianists Marian McPartland and Dr. Billy Taylor as well as recently-retired San Francisco Chronicle jazz critic Phil Elwood, who added a tragic note to the otherwise festive occasion when he informed the audience that the Chronicle will not be rehiring for his position, and Village Vanguard proprietor Lorraine Gordon who, always in character, told the audience to shut up at a particularly din-filled moment during the proceedings.
Other award presenters included: journalists Ashley Kahn, Willard Jenkins, Bill Milkowski, T. Brooks Shepard, Ken Dryden, Patricia Willard, Ted Panken, Chuck Obuchowski, Martin Johnson, Laurence Donohue-Greene, Larry Blumenfeld, Dan Ouellette, and Ira Gitler; Howard Mandel, JJA president; Wendy Oxenhorn , Jazz Foundation of America executive director; Thomas Bellino, Jazz Program Specialist for Chamber Music America; Chuck Iwanusa, Jazz Alliance International; Danny Meyer, proprietor, Jazz Standard/Blue Smoke; Claire Daly, baritone saxophonist; Jeff Kliman, photographer; Suzan Jenkins, jazz industry veteran; Jeff Levenson, jazz industry veteran; Bill Gottlieb, photographer; Martin Mueller, director, New School Jazz and Contemporary Music Program; Dan Morgenstern, Institute of Jazz Studies, and Lauren Deutsch, executive director, Jazz Institute of Chicago; as well as NewMusicBox editor Frank J. Oteri and Lara Pellegrinelli (guest editor of the June 2002 NewMusicBox).
The Jazz Journalists Association is an international group of writers, editors, photographers, broadcasters, filmmakers, educators, and media professionals who institute collegial and educational programs for the appreciation, documentation, and promulgation of jazz. After first convening in Chicago in 1986, the JJA has held annual meetings, often timed to major festivals and jazz conventions in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland, Montreal, Washington DC, and New Orleans. The JJA’s Web site Jazzhouse features online news and articles, interactive forums, photo galleries, member links and association activities. Jazz Notes, the JJA’s quarterly newsletter, serves as a clearing house of ideas, organizational news and views.
Since 1997, the JJA has presented Jazz Awards to notable musicians and journalists each June in New York City. Among the financial supporters of the Jazz Awards 2002 were Columbia Records, ECM, Warner Brothers Records, Palmetto Records, Justin Time Records, Jazz@Lincoln Center, Tower Records, Watson-Guptill Publishers (Billboard Books), and the JazzCorner website. For more information on the JJA Awards, visit the Web site of the Jazz Journalists Association or the Web site created specifically for the Awards.